Elizabeth Stuart, often referred to as The Winter Queen, was born on 19 August 1595 to James VI of Scotland, who was also James I of Great Britain, and Anne of Denmark in Falkland Palace, Scotland. In the Chapel Royal at Holyrood Palace, Elizabeth was christened in November of the same year.
Named in honour of Elizabeth I, the early years of her life were spent in Linlithgow Palace. After the death of Elizabeth I, her father became king. At this point, the Scottish and English monarchies were combined, and James gave himself the title of King of Great Britain.
She was given an extensive education in the subjects of geography, theology, natural history, writing, history, music, languages, and dancing. However, she was not instructed in Latin, because her father believed that it could make her “more cunning”. She would go on to become fluent in a number of languages, including French.
Her elder brother, The Prince of Wales, died in 1612 from typhoid. She was said to have attempted to access his sick chamber by disguising herself as a servant girl. She was also known to have really cared about her godmother, Elizabeth I, and after inheriting jewellery after the latter’s passing, she was known to wear her iconic pearls around her neck as a way to remember her.
The famous Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605 had plans to assassinate Elizabeth’s father, elder brother Henry, Prince of Wales, and many others by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Another part of the plan was to abduct Elizabeth and place her on the throne as a Catholic puppet monarch.
Elizabeth had many different suitors before Frederick, Count Palatine of the Rhine was selected to become her husband. During their courtship, he was known to have become good friends with her beloved brother, Henry. Her father was said to not care if the couple were happy because he only cared about achieving a “domestic and European concord”. Her mother, Queen Anne was said to not be happy with the pairing due to her desire to be the mother of a queen.
Frederick and Elizabeth married on 14 February 1613 in the Palace of Whitehall’s royal chapel. Her husband became Frederick V, Elector Palatine 19 September 1610, and therefore, after her wedding, she became Electress Palatine.
By 1619, the couple had three children: Frederick Henry, Charles, and Elisabeth. In that year, her husband was offered the throne of Bohemia, after the Bohemians defied their reigning monarch, Ferdinand II. He reigned as Frederick I. In December of that year, their fourth child, Rupert was born. The next year, in 1620, the Bohemians were defeated by the Catholic League, who were fighting on behalf of Ferdinand, during the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November. This battle was a trigger of the Thirty Years’ War. Bohemia is located in what is now the Czech Republic.
Elizabeth had already left Bohemia by the time the battle at ended and was residing in Berlin, where she gave birth to her fifth child, Maurice. The family then went to The Hague in 1621, where they stayed with Prince Maurice of Orange. While living in exile, Frederick and Elizabeth had eight more children: two girls and two boys. They would be in exile for forty years.
In January 1632, Frederick set out to join the King of Sweden in battle. Things did not go as he had hoped, and he set off to return home to his family. He would not make it home. He died on the morning of 29 November, after suffering from an infection since October. Elizabeth did not take the news of his death well. She did not eat, drink, or sleep for three days. The rooms of her home were decorated in black, including the walls and beds. Charles I, her younger brother, invited her to return to England, but she refused. By 1661, she did return to England, after her nephew, Charles II gave permission, albeit hesitantly.
She would fill her time in exile by writing letters, which were sealed with black wax. These letters were written in code to protect her letters from prying eyes. In 1953, these letters were released, after they had been edited by L.M. Baker.
After contracting pneumonia, she would haemorrhage from the lungs on the 1o of February. Elizabeth died on 13 February 1662. When her coffin was taken to Westminster Abbey during her funeral procession, only her son Rupert walked behind. She was laid to rest beside her beloved brother, Henry, Prince of Wales, in the chapel of Henry VII.
Most European royal families, including the British, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, Danish, Belgian, Luxembourg, and Norwegian, can trace their lineage back to Elizabeth Stuart.